Carrageenans are highly flexible and large molecules that curl to form helical structures. They are extracted from red edible seaweeds, and this, therefore, makes them fall under the family of linear sulfated polysaccharides. Carrageenan is also used in food industry due to their thickening, stabilizing, and gelling properties. It is essential even to understand that there are three main varieties of carrageenan. They include:
Iota is one of the best types of carrageenan that forms a stable gel when it is mixed or combined with calcium salts. The gel that is created stays elastic in texture because it is soluble in water. Most people use this gel in different places based on their uses. For instance, it can be applied in pharmaceutical industry to neutralize the inhibitors that are used in the preparation of nasal spray.
This is also another common kind of carrageenan that is also known as food grade. This type of carrageenan is used in food industry, and many people apply it to their dairy products. It is crucial to understand that kappa produces a stable gel that can be combined with potassium salts to form a more brittle gel that can be mixed with locust bean. The gel, therefore, contains 20 to 30 percent of ester sulfate content that is used as a stabilizing agent. Therefore, this is one of the best types of carrageenan for food.
This is also another form of carrageenan that differs from the two common types. One of the differences you are likely to see in lambda is that it is soluble in cold water whereas iota and kappa are soluble in hot water. It is also applied on some of the dairy products to obtain the creamy feel.
It is important also to understand that carrageenans are also classified into two forms: Refined and Semi-Refined Carrageenans.
When it comes to semi-refined form, you will find that it is obtained from Eucheuma Cottonii which is a type a seaweed. It is ideal for large-scale production more especially for pet food formulas.
The refined carrageenans are obtained from a complete filtration process that is conducted by the filter technology to extract the required quantity of carrageenan mainly. Therefore, these different forms of carrageenan make it have various benefits in industrial applications. Make sure that you have identified these various types of carrageenans before you decide to use them.